Plant Feature: Attracts Birds

Bougainvillea

Genus: Bougainvillea

These thorny and woody vines can grow very tall when they have a support structure. They can also be trimmed as bushes. The leaves can be solid green or variegated. The actual flowers are small and white appearing in clusters of three. The flowers themselves are surrounded by brightly colored leaf bracts. Bougainvillea are a classic compliment to Mediterranean and Spanish Colonial architecture. They can be grown in loose forms or trained to a more formal habit.

California Lilac

Genus: Ceanothus

These evergreen shrubs are native to California and tolerant of very little water in the summer. They work well in gardens as hedges and as a backdrop to lower plantings. California lilacs have small clusters of fragrant and attractive flowers in the spring. California lilacs can become quite large, growing to the height of a tree and expanding to a girth of five feet. Avoid planting California Lilac if you have a problem with deer.

Lantana

Genus: Lantana

The trailing growth habit makes this flowering shrub appropriate for use as a ground cover while some variations are more upright. The fragrant blooms attract butterflies. Lantana blooms repeatedly with more abundant blooms when planted in full sun. Consideration should be given to lantana placement in the gardenscape as it can become invasive.

Lilac Hibiscus

Genus: Alyogyne Huegelii

These large shrubs grow to 5 feet in height and they are nearly as wide. The flowers continue through an extended blooming season that is at its peak in the spring months. The plants require regular watering until they are established. It is great to provide deep watering while the root system is getting established. Following that, they are water efficient. The plants can become unruly unless pruned each year in the spring. Lilac hibiscus originally come from Australia where they are typically found in coastal regions.

Mahonia

Genus: Mahonia Lomarifolia

This tall striking plant creates interest in the winter with spikes of yellow flowers. The foliage is dramatic year round with distinctly pointed leaves. New growth at the top of the plant takes on a rosy shade. The purple berries are an additional focal point. The plant is hardy once established but will require summer watering until then. Pruning is required to keep growth in check. The plant is also called Chinese Holly Grape. It has a vertical growing habit which enables it to work in gardens with space constraints.

Manzanita

Genus: Arctostaphylos

As an evergreen California native plant with strong visual interest, it is unfortunate that Manzanitas are not used more frequently in our gardenscapes. Manzanitas can be grown either as a shrubs or small trees. The twisting growth habit and distinctive red color of the limbs makes Manzanita excellent focal points. The plants attract butterflies and birds (including hummingbirds). Manzanita look great in rock gardens and do very well with little water once established. California gardeners will want to consider a variety that does well with local soil conditions.

Mediterranean Spurge

Genus: Euphrobia Characias

These evergreen flowering perennial shrubs are compact, growing to a height of about three feet. Most varieties feature blue green vegetation with dense chartreuse flower clusters appearing in early spring and continuing through mid-summer. Some varieties can be found with purple leaves and flowers. Once established, Mediterranean Spurges can get by with very little supplementary water. The plants can take full sun or partial shade and do best in well draining soil conditions.

Redbud

Genus: Cercis Occidentalis

This small deciduous trees or large shrub is noted for its profusion of attractive pink spring flowers. Leafing takes place after flowering. The stems for new growth are deep red and branching takes on appealing forms. The California redbud is characterized by magenta seed pods in the summer and fall color. Redbuds are drought tolerant but can also do well near stream beds.

Salvia

Genus: Salvia Farinacae

This flowering annual features a spike of deep purple-blue or white blooms. While technically a perennial, salvia farinacae is best treated as an annual as the lower stems become woody and unattractive. These salvias can be used effectively in a mixed border and add some needed height when paired with low to the ground perennials. The deep coloration of the flowers are also a nice counterpoint when mixed with warm hued flowers. The flowers on white blooming varieties look spent more rapidly than the darker shades.

Strawberry Tree

Genus: Arbutus Unedo

This small tree can be grown as a shrub or a multi-trunked tree. The Strawberry Tree which is sometimes called a cane apple, features small flowers and orange-red fruit. The tree retains a nice compact form with minimal pruning. These trees do well with only occasional watering once established. They do prefer a well draining soil. The tree is evergreen and has interesting bark which takes on a peeling effect. Strawberry trees attract birds.